Open main menu

Henry Oscar Talle (January 12, 1892 – March 14, 1969) was an economics professor and a ten-term Republican U.S. Representative from eastern Iowa. He served in the United States Congress for twenty years from 1939 until 1959.

Henry Oscar Talle
Henry O. Talle (Iowa Congressman).jpg
From 1957's Pocket Congressional Directory of the Eighty-Fifth Congress.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 4th district
In office
January 3, 1939 – January 3, 1943
Preceded byFred Biermann
Succeeded byKarl M. LeCompte
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 1943 – January 3, 1959
Preceded byWilliam S. Jacobsen
Succeeded byLeonard G. Wolf
Personal details
Born(1892-01-12)January 12, 1892
Albert Lea, Minnesota, United States
DiedMarch 14, 1969(1969-03-14) (aged 77)
Washington D.C., United States
Resting placeArlington National Cemetery, Virginia, United States
Political partyRepublican
ProfessionEconomics professor


Born on a farm near Albert Lea, Minnesota, Talle was educated in rural schools and Luther Academy in Albert Lea. He first arrived in Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, as a student, receiving a bachelor's degree in 1917. He interrupted his own academic career to serve in the U.S. Navy in the First World War, and to serve as a teacher (and superintendent of schools) in Rugby and Rolette, North Dakota in 1919 and 1920, and as a teacher in Luther Academy in 1920 and 1921. He pursued graduate work at University of Minnesota, Boston University, Emerson College, and the University of Chicago. [1]


In 1921 he returned to Decorah and Luther College to serve as a professor of economics, a position that he held until he was elected to Congress in 1938. During that period he also served as the College's treasurer from 1932 to 1938.

During the first six years of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration, Decorah and surrounding northwestern Iowa counties in Iowa's 4th congressional district were represented by the former publisher of The Decorah Journal, Democrat Fred Biermann. Talle tried and failed to unseat Congressman Biermann in 1936, but succeeded two years later (in an election in which Republicans recaptured nearly all of the U.S. House seats in Iowa lost in the 1932 Democratic landslide). Talle won election by unseating an incumbent Democrat New Dealer from Talle's own hometown. Talle ran for re-election to his seat in the 4th district in 1940 and was re-elected.

The 1940 census caused Iowa to lose one of its nine seats in the U.S. House, forcing the 1941 Iowa General Assembly to redraw congressional district boundaries. Although Republicans then controlled the Assembly and the Governor's office, Republican Talle was considered the "goat" burdened most severely by the reapportionment plan that the Assembly ultimately approved. The old 4th district was broken up, and Talle's home county and a few others from the old 4th district were placed in a reconfigured 2nd congressional district. Compared to the old 4th district, the new 2nd district included more urban areas, including Cedar Rapids and Clinton — the home of three-term incumbent Democrat William Jacobsen and his late predecessor and father, three-term Democrat Bernhard Jacobsen. However, in Talle's 1942 race against William Jacobsen, Talle was aided by the continued decline in support in Iowa for Democrats in Washington, and won with a comfortable margin of over 15,000 votes. He would win re-election with at least 55 percent of the vote in the next six elections, while advancing in seniority within the House Republican caucus.

After the 1956 elections (in which Talle prevailed over Democrat Leonard Wolf but received only 52.3 percent of the vote), he was the ranking Republican on the House Banking and Currency Committee.[2] In the mid-term elections two years later, an increase in farm costs engendered hostility against Republican policies.[2] This time, Wolf defeated Talle. In all, Talle served in Congress from January 3, 1939 to January 3, 1959.

Following his defeat, Talle remained in Washington D.C., serving in the Eisenhower Administration as Assistant Administrator for Program Policy of the U.S. Housing and Home Finance Agency from February 2, 1959, to February 19, 1961. He resided in Chevy Chase, Maryland, until his death in Washington, D.C., on March 14, 1969. He was interred in Arlington National Cemetery.[3]


  1. ^ "Luther Academy 1888-1928" (PDF). Freeborn County Heritage Book 1988 - Page 52. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Midwestern battleground: Congressional Fights Tax the G.O.P.," Time Magazine, 1958-10-20.
  3. ^ "Henry Oscar Talle Ensign, United States Navy Member of Congress". Arlington National Cemetery. Retrieved November 3, 2015.

Other sourcesEdit

External linksEdit